About fifteen years ago I read a quote that changed my life. “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I would try to ask myself this question every morning before I would leave for the day. Imagine living in a world where anytime you exerted a minutia of effort, you would see golden results. In the story we tell of our ancestor’s exodus from Egypt we watch Moses infused with miracles of Hashem navigate the Jews through the dessert of the world and the desert of their souls. Moses leads Jews to freedom and along the way there are signs and wonders: ten plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, mann from heaven, water from a rock. Whatever the people need, Hashem sends. Often, our curiosity imagines what our lives and world would be like if we had access to the power of the miraculous. It would solve all of our problems. We would be living in a utopia. It’s true that the wondrous miracles solved some problems like moving people from place to place, but it didn’t work on Jews personal choice. The generation of the Exodus did not change. They remained confrontational, ungrateful, unpredictable, ready to despair at the slightest setback, unfit for the responsibility of freedom.
One of the greater lessons of telling the Passover story and watching the history unfold until our people arrived in Israel teaches us that miracles don’t solve problems. We see this most poignantly by a series of speeches given by Moses in the last month of his life. Moses stops preforming miracles and instead spends the few remaining weeks of his life teaching the Jews that slavery was easy and freedom is hard. He taught them that what would determine the future of our people won’t be strength, military or demographic, but the values and ideals that we choose to accept in the Torah: justice, compassion, responsibility and most important, education. Moses taught us to choose life; he taught us that we create the world that we live in. We define our reality. Miracles won’t help our journey, choice does. What would you set out to accomplish knowing that your choice impacts reality? There is no room for failure here.
At RAJE I find myself surrounded by individuals that have the potential to change the world. It requires commitment to learning and a belief that one can’t fail. On Passover we must not forget our more modern and intellectual slavery and freedom gained from the Former Soviet Union where the government issued laws to estrange Jews from their heritage, culture and religion. Generations of Jews now live without a connection to their illustrious heritage to help guide them through the challenges of life. As we begin to prepare for our family gatherings and Passover meals the seasons are noticeably going through change. As the spring unfolds, our sages teach us that this is time of year is the inaugural time for growth, a time for deep introspection and reflective change. My Passover blessing to each of you is that Hashem should bless you with the clarity you need to recognize that you were created in the image of God permeated with the power to change reality and create a new world of truth, justice and freedom for our children and their children; a future where our children understand that they can accomplish anything if they put their minds to it.